The applies anywhere, not just the Poconos.
Caveat Emptor. Buyers and wannabe investors can be very careless when purchasing a building lot in northeastern PA and the Poconos – especially if the price seems so cheap that it’d be “foolish” to pass up the opportunity. Since it’s a relatively small undertaking compared to purchasing a house, buyers may let their guard down when buying land.
This is where the “Be sure to use a local real estate professional” plug should be, but in reality, you can do your own research before making a huge mistake that could end up costing much more than the initial purchase.
The popularity of eBay for real estate scares me – not because it is “competition,” but due to the opportunity for consumers to be seriously ripped off. Two issues that may make your property virtually worthless, or at best, costly to sell, are:
- Perc tests.
Buyers from urban areas may not understand the importance of land being “percable.” In most rural areas, there is no central water or sewer (except in a few developments.) Thus the land must be able to support a well and an on-site septic system to be considered buildable. A percolation (perc) test will show whether the land can support a septic system. Some home owner associations will charge dues to property owners regardless of whether the lot is buildable or not. Before purchasing a lot anywhere, demand a valid perc certification and septic approval.
- Title issues.
Make sure that the title to the land is completely clean – no issues hiding in the background from illegal tax sales, liens or judgments, back taxes, etc. Purchasing title insurance is a must, in order to protect you in the future, especially if you want to sell your property.
Unfortunately, many have been taken in by CraigsList and eBay sales and paid thousands of dollars for a piece of land that may cost them a lot more money to sell. At the very least, hire a local real estate attorney when purchasing land. Investigate to make sure you’re not paying more than the land is worth (this is where a real estate agent like me is especially helpful!)
Caveat emptor! Buyers, you may not be saving anything by making a straight purchase from the owner – remember, he has his own best interests at heart, not yours. Rather than making a great investment, you could end up losing a great deal of money.